Personally, there's nothing I look forward to more than the crisp breeze and the trees changing colors, but fall fashion especially has me excited about the season's cooler temps. There's just something about autumn styles that scream timelessness and chic—think leather jackets, ankle boots, and maxi skirts. However, a fall wardrobe wouldn't be complete without one of the best sweaters.
Sweaters are a fall staple for a simple reason: Styling a sweater is effortless. For example, you can throw on a cardigan over a long dress for an easy transitional look or choose a graphic option paired with jeans and boots, and then you're ready to go. Meanwhile, I tend to make a turtleneck, mini skirt, and knee-high boots my go-to outfit throughout the season. I could go on and on about my love for sweaters and their endless styling options, but at least I'm not the only one.
Marie Claire editors and stylists alike are just as obsessed with the best sweaters as I am, so keep reading to see the expert picks we can't wait to wear once there's a chill in the air, plus tried-and-true shopping tips. You'll find everything from crewnecks to thick winter sweaters with price points to match any budget.
What to Look For in a Sweater
Sweaters come in all different shapes and sizes—turtlenecks, cropped, oversized, and crewnecks, to name a few popular styles—so no two sweaters will likely fit the same. Since sweaters are all about being cute and cozy, you may want to prioritize comfort when shopping for a knitted piece. That said, sweaters will have a different fit depending on their style and how you wear them. For example, fashion stylist Kate Moroney says turtlenecks "look great under crew neck sweaters and bulky v-neck cardigans, and they are great for tucking in and pairing with the trouser and wide leg pant styles that have been popular the past few seasons." Meanwhile, crewnecks are a great everyday sweater that can be dressed up or down, whereas an oversized option is ideal for extra layers, especially on chilly days.
When shopping for sweaters, you'll come across many different fabric compositions in pieces, but rest assured, there's not one fabric that's inherently better than the rest. Simply put, other fabrics are going to suit different needs.
- Natural materials like cotton can be found in plenty of sweaters, and it's a great option if you're looking for something more breathable.
- Wool, on the other hand, is much thicker and provides more heat, making it a great option for winter sweaters.
- You'll also run into cashmere, famous for its extra-soft, warm feel, but sweaters made from cashmere will be pricier.
- If you're on a budget, look for blended fabrics like cashmere or wool blended with cotton, polyester, or acrylic. A blended composition will keep the price more affordable yet still provide all the coziness you want in a sweater.
The Best Sweaters
- Best Overall Sweater: Everlane The Oversized Alpaca Crew
- Best Turtleneck Sweater: Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater
- Best Crewneck Sweater: Gap Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
- Best Cardigan Sweater: Alex Mill Nico Chunky Cardigan in Stripe
- Best Cable-knit Sweater: Loulou Studio Cableknit Cashmere Blend Sweater
- Best Cashmere Sweater: Reformation Fantino Cashmere Collared Cardigan
- Best Oversized Sweater: Aritzia Wilfred Jara Luxe Cashmere Sweater
- Best Cropped Sweater: & Other Stories Cropped Mock Neck Knit Sweater
Best Turtleneck Sweater
"I have a go-to work uniform, not because I'm particularly Steve Jobs-like but because I'm particularly lazy. This sweater, along with a bunch of other Uniqlo sweaters I've picked up over the years, is in regular rotation. You really can't go wrong with Uniqlo when it comes to basics—I bought a similar sweater in 2009 that I only just had to toss. (RIP.)" — Jenny Hollander, Digital Director
Best Cashmere Sweater
This sweater has me immediately wanting to curl up next to a fire with a good book. It's made of recycled cashmere, which makes it so soft that it could probably double as a blanket in a pinch. It also looks just as good buttoned up as it does open and layered. This is a sweater you can feel good about buying, too, as it has 87 percent less carbon impact than conventional cashmere, yet looks and feels just as good as the real deal. That's a fashion win-win if I've ever seen one.
Best Overall Sweater
"Perfect for cold days and nights, this Everlane basic has amassed a cult following for a reason. It's warm and cozy without being cloying, and there are few events you can't wear this event for in the winter. Plus, it's made with alpaca wool with sustainability in mind." – Jenny Hollander, Digital Director
Best Cardigan Sweater
"I didn't think I would love this striped cardigan from Alex Mill as much as I do. It's chunky and warm but not too warm, so I can wear it year-round. Plus the simple navy and white colorway is super easy to style." – Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Best Polo Sweater
How this sweater is made from cashmere and under $100 is beyond me, but I'm so thankful that it is. With 100 percent Mongolian cashmere, this sweater feels luxurious and has the look of luxury with the polo neckline. The open polo collar and relaxed fit are a great way to switch it up from go-to crewneck styles. This pick would also look especially chic with trousers for the office.
Best Crewneck Sweater
Once temps dip below say 50 degrees, your everyday t-shirts aren't going to cut it. Instead, opt for a thin, lightweight sweater like this Gap pick to serve as your essential layering piece. With a slightly slim fit, this wool sweater is breathable, yet still feels soft and cozy. From navy blue to camel tan, each of the five colorways are classic shades that pair perfectly with all of your jeans and jackets. Trust me when I say you'll get tons of wear out of this staple sweater.
Best Blazer Sweater
"I’m not quite ready to give up my WFH tees and sweatshirts, but this long sweater blazer allows me to be comfortable and stylish with almost everything I own. I typically layer it with relaxed tees, button-up shirts, or even a dress if I’m feeling fancy. In short: it helps me look (and feel) my best even when I’m not." — Deena Campbell, Beauty Director
Best Sustainable Sweater
"I love the versatility of the Barry cardigan from Sézane. It looks great dressed up or just paired with jeans. The v-neck is super flattering and the fabric is so soft. I have it in several colors already, but the red will be in my cart next. It feels very on-trend for this season, but is still timeless and classic so I know I’ll wear it for years. It’s also important to me that Sezane is dedicated to creating high-quality, gorgeous pieces through ethical and sustainable manufacturing, so I’m a huge fan of this brand overall!" — Kate Schofield, E-commerce Manager
Best Cable-knit Sweater
According to celebrity stylist Aisha Rae, a chunky cable-knit sweater is a must in anyone's fall wardrobe rotation. While she says the best styles come from your mother or grandmother's closet, plenty of brands are offering the classic style in their fall collections. This pick from Loulou Studio nails the cable-knit look to a T. It's oversized, chunky, and made from a cozy cashmere/wool blend. Rae adds, "This sweater is timeless and so cozy and looks great paired with anything."
Best Oversized Sweater
"The only point of cold weather, in my opinion, is to be able to wear oversized, cozy knits—and no one does that better than Aritzia. This 'Jara' turtleneck is a wardrobe staple. It's not insanely pricey but, as the 'luxe' in its name suggests, it feels expensive, buttery soft, and is light enough to throw on in fall and early spring months with a pair of jeans, and to layer under blazers and jackets during those frigid winter days. It also comes in several bright colorways—I already own a hot pink version, and am eyeing the pumpkin spice hue when it's back in stock." – Neha Prakash, Entertainment Director
Best Half-Zip Sweater
There's nothing better than being stylish and cozy at the same time so a half-zip is a must in my sweater rotation. The style is the next best thing to swearing a sweatshirt and looks so much more put-together. This option from Everlane is thick, looks and feels so luxurious, and has the perfect relaxed fit. Whenever I'm forced to look presentable on WFH days, I like to throw this half-zip sweater on to look presentable without having to sacrifice comfort.
Best Everyday Sweater
You really can't go wrong with a striped sweater. There's a reason you see an iteration from just about every brand year after year and that's because the style is classic and effortlessly chic. Take this affordable pick from Gap as an example. The stripes are a nice added touch to the perfect sweater silhouette. Like the name suggests, you'll want to wear this oversized pick 24/7 with all of your jeans and leggings this fall.
Best Stylist-Approved Sweater
"Standout sweaters in unexpected bright colors are a staple in my closet," says Moroney. "When we are in the thick of winter, putting on a soft lavender or yellow sweater is such a pick-me-up. "I love pairing a bright sweater with a leather skirt and over-the-knee boots (another trend for fall!) for dinners out with friends. It's comfy and anything but boring."
Best Affordable Cashmere Sweater
"Meg Strachan (the designer behind the incredible jewelry line, Dorsey) introduced me to this sweater from J.Crew and I haven't stopped recommending it since. At under $150, it's one of the best affordable cashmere options I've ever tried—soft, minimal pilling, and holds it shape year after year. I currently own it in two colors (the gray is my all-time favorite) and am considering adding the baby pink to the collection." — Nikki Ogunnaike, Editor-in-Chief
Best Distressed Sweater
Another must-have sweater style for Rae is a deconstructed knit. "I love a dramatic fashion deconstructed sweater because that is always a staple item in your closet," says Rae. "This sweater is for those days you don't feel like putting much thought into your outfit but you know this sweater will always turn heads and be unique."